They wont all be this long. Promise. (That’s what I told her…lol)
There is a garage, belonging to the actual guy Heineken modeled their “Most Interesting Man In The World”, that happens to be next-door to my Aunt & Uncle’s lakeside house in Northern Idaho. He doesn’t always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Kokanee. And he doesn’t always travel by land, but when he does, he has many vehicles to choose from. At the time of this chapter, I believe his stable included a Ferrari Testerosa, Superformance Shelby Cobra, BMW GS1200, BMW S1000RR, and the one I preferred…the Ducati 999R. This man is incredibly generous and has a zest for adventure, and speed. While enjoying a beer on his inflatable trampoline, I remember him advising his young son from the dock about how to use the turbo-charged Honda Civic V-Tech sea doo, “Remember, Go Fast and Take Chances." Indeed, inspiring words to live by.
It was mid-summer 2010, and my (then) fiance and I had made the trip up to visit my relatives for some lakeside R&R. The neighbor guy told us to bring our riding gear because he’d like to take us on an overnight ride up into Canada. When he said we’d be welcome to use his bikes, I immediately chose the 999R. I rode it very briefly the summer before, and though I knew it was not a "friendly touring bike”, I also new I was not a geezer yet (27 years young), and the desmo was calling me. It was a call that I had been missing from my trusty 07 Yamaha R1. The R1 was great. It had an agressive Graves full system exhaust on it and a custom ECU tuning to crack the throttle upon closure (to lessen the harsh engine braking at high revs). But it just didn’t feel…special. I know that may sound ridiculous to some people, even myself, but it’s the truth. Yes, I used to make fun of people like myself too.
So towards the last remaining days of our vacation, the Neighbor handed us the saddle bags for his GS and told us to get ready to go. He said he had a couple small things he needed to do to his bike, over at his second garage, before we headed off, but that we should go to his main garage and get our bikes ready to go. By the time we were ready to embark, his situation had become dire. He dropped an important part of his radar detector into his GS, and was having to practically strip the bike down to the frame to retrieve it. Understandably frustrated, he began to insist that we start the journey without him. We were confused. We didn’t really even know where we were going. But he gave use a few highway numbers and demanded we get going, while assuring us that he’d catch up.
So we headed Northeast up Idaho’s “chimney” towards the Kingsgate border crossing. Approaching the Canadian border, we became concerned that we were entering a new country without our Interesting Man. We pulled to the side of the road to check our maps and directions. Honestly, we were a bit lost and confused. But just after we geared back up and got ready to leave, we saw our missing partner’s BMW approaching. We flagged him down, and the journey turned golden. Suffice to say that part of the world is beautiful for riding motorcycles…especially with a radar detector. When we asked our fearless leader about the conversion of KPH to MPH, he simple explained, cut the KPH in half and you basically have MPH. Seemed about right. We were also told that Canadian tickets don’t really mean anything to Americans. Not sure if that’s true, but sounded fine. One of our biggest concerns was deer. But thankfully, never saw one. The roads of British Colombia are pristine and the few ferry rides were amusing. Before we reached our destination of Revelstoke, B.C., we did encounter some heavy clouds, some rain, and a handful of wind. But the weather was quite bearable, even in mesh, and I was absolutely loving the 999R. I found myself obsessing over it. Every part of is just looked…special. It’s impossible not to feel special on it. I felt emotions reminiscent of riding my old CR250 dirt bike through forest trails. It felt alive. It was a feeling I had been missing from the R1. I realized there is a whole new level of bike out there, and that there was a reason Ducati could get away with charging nearly double the competition. I was in heaven.
After spending the night in Revelstoke, we headed back via a bit of a Western detour. There were many points where we had to inch along in traffic. The 999R did not fancy traffic. The clutch became more and more stubborn. I was finding myself having to be sure to toe-click it into neutral before I came to a stop. Once I was fully stopped, the clutch was not fully doing its job and kept me from shifting to neutral. I began to stall. The battery quickly dropped below 10V and then Ducati’s unique electronic starter would decide not to even try starting the bike. I became stranded from the group at an intersection. Once the group found me, we were able to roll the bike to a parking lot. Then we had to go buy a hex key that would fit the plastics. Welcome to riding a Ducati. I learned very quickly about its high-maintenance nature. Nothing about it was meant to be “easy." Still I loved looking at it. Turned out we were not able to get the bike running again, and we left it at the local Ducati dealer for repairs. The Most Interesting Man would fly back up when the bike was repaired and ride it back. In the meantime, my wife had to hop on the back of his GS, and I took over the other Bimmer, a brand new S1000RR. The bike was impressive, with it’s quick shifter, traction control, and 460lbs wet weight with 170hp. But I longed for the Ducati. It’s was just too…German. Too perfect. Too…unemotional. Like my beloved R1, something was missing. Something important.
Without getting too much into the details of our trip, the most important symptom was the desire for that feeling the Ducati gave me. And well, what better way to relive it than get rid of your R1 and buy yourself a Ducati. So I took some pics of my R1, posted it on Craigslist, and took a trip to my local Duc dealer. Even the stock new 1198 was too pricey for me. And what I really wanted, was the features of the S model, which costs even more. I even had my heart set on the limited edition 1198S Corsa model, with its unique color scheme and aluminum tank. I found one used on ebay that I was going to have shipped across the country, but lost out. Then, one weekend I visited my local Ducati shop and saw out front, a man parking a 1098S Tricolore. He was trading it into the dealer to get the new 1198S. The timing was perfect. That bike would not last. Best of all, it was just barely within my budget. I would have rather sold the R1 first, but the universe was telling me it was time to take the opportunity. Limited edition, unique coloring, and all the S features such as the Termi exhaust, Ohlins suspension, Brembo Monobloc brakes, Marchesini forged aluminum rims, and Ducati Data Analyzer…a usb device that records Temp, Speed, RPM, Gear, Gas, and Distance as well as a lap timer that you can lap using the brights trigger on the left handlebar controls. Basically, it was a perfect tool to appease my growing passion for riding track days (mostly with Motoyardtrackdays.com at Willow Springs, Big and Streets). Actually, Motoyard had a unique Double Track Day (Saturday and Sunday) scheduled at Willow Springs the following weekend. I wasn’t stoked about owning 2 financed bikes, but the universe was screaming at me. I could not deny the opportunity. I was smitten by that red, white, and green machine. So I sealed the deal and felt supreme joy about my decision. The details could be worked out later. I knew in my heart, I did the right thing. I couldn’t take the bike home that day, but instead had to wait 2 days to the dealer could freshen the thing up. After all, when I bought it, the bike was still warm from the previous owner dropping it off.
And so it began…